Airport Business

NOV 2018

The airport professional's source for airport industry news, articles, events, and careers.

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November 2018 airportbusiness 9 SECURITY MATTERS • Active Shooter Incidents – During active shooter incidents at or even nearby an airport, airports may elect to suspend operations to ensure passenger safety and security. Airports will need to inform staff and passengers of possible delays and proactive communication has a major impact in the volume of passengers who may arrive at the airport to fly out, only to find that they are unable to do so. After the deadly mass shooting at the Mandalay Bay hotel, all planes were grounded at nearby McCarran International and flights were diverted to other airports during the police action around the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Automated communications allow airports to quickly share important information about the situation and what people inside the airport need to do or where they need to go. In addition, for active shooter situations that occur at the airport, like the shooting that occurred at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, airport managers can leverage communications systems to alert people at specific gates or areas where the shooting is occurring to seek shelter, as well as instruct people elsewhere in the airport to avoid the area. Pre-scripted messaging scenarios, which deliver full details to airport management while sending separate evacuation orders to those in impacted areas and shelter-in-place instructions to everyone else should leverage automation and business rules to ensure simultaneous delivery to various audiences, rather than a linear communications process to the different stakeholder groups, which can take considerable time to execute during a crisis. • Computer or Power Outages – Whether a glitch with an airline’s reservations systems or a cyber-attack on all airport servers, IT incidents can end up stranding tens of thousands of passengers in a matter of hours as hundreds of flights are cancelled or delayed. Without efficient, real-time communication between operations managers and affected parties, passengers and public-facing tenants may not know there even is an outage – much less how long it will impact them or whether the issue is with the particular airline they’re flying with or the entire airport. Failure to rapidly and proactively communicate with the entire airport community often results in the reporting of inaccurate information via social media, which then translates to reports in mainstream media, damaging an airports brand and reputation. From an efficiency perspective, lack of proactive communication with all badge holders results in hundreds of helpdesk tickets being opened and calls to airport operations, causing an airport’s response team to waste limited resources responding to repeated questions rather than addressing the issue. Automating and Accelerating Incident Response As shown in the above examples, communication processes must be streamlined and automated to ensure the fastest and most efficient incident response. Automating notification procedures eliminates manual processes, such as those that identify the teams and individuals responsible for responding to a critical incident. It also allows for improved collaboration and communication between airport teams, as well as with businesses and passengers in the airport, making the overall resolution time shorter while keeping passengers informed every step of the way. Here are several steps airports can take to streamline, automate and accelerate their communications process: 1. Have a communication plan in place First, airports should identify all stakeholders (internal and external) that require communication during and after any incident. Typically, the very definition of what it means to “communicate with everyone” changes dramatically following a critical incident. For those who have experienced a catastrophic incident first hand, it is understood that communication during such events must include airport employees, all tenants, all flight crew currently at the airport or scheduled to fly that day, passengers, transportation providers (e.g. public transit, taxis, TNCs), and for mass casualty events, nearby trauma centers and mutual aid partners. The plan should address who will be responsible for sending communications and specify tools that will be used to communicate with each stakeholder group. Crafting pre-written incident message templates, which are dynamically modified at the time of the incident based on incident type, location and other variables, dramatically reduces the time required to communicate and also reduces the human error often correlated with managing critical events. An example of what might be sent to airport staff during a power outage includes, “A fill in the incident has just occurred. We are investigating the situation to determine next steps. An update will follow in approximately 15 minutes.” 2. Know which teams are on-call and who is available Going through spreadsheets, white boards and call trees is inefficient and time consuming when managing a major incident. Ensuring on-call schedules are centralized and perpetually up-to-date improves response and ensures that only required personnel are called to action. This careful targeting of responders helps to mitigate a major problem today among airport staff, known as alert fatigue. It also enables individuals with specific skillsets to be called and allows teams to be activated in accordance to sequential callout, mandated by Everbridge

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